Quantitative Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)-1 Antibodies Correlate With Plasma HIV-1 RNA and Cell-associated DNA Levels in Children on Antiretroviral Therapy

Clin Infect Dis. 2019 May 2;68(10):1725-1732. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciy753.


Background: This study measured serial plasma human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1-specific antibody (Ab) levels in children who initiated antiretroviral therapy (ART) prior to 2 years of age, and evaluated their relationship to peripheral blood HIV-1 RNA and DNA levels.

Methods: We studied 46 HIV-1-infected children, stratified by age at ART initiation (<3 mo, early therapy [ET]; >3 mo-2 years, late therapy [LT]) and by virologic response (R) or non-response (NR), before and up to 4 years following ART. We studied 20 HIV-1-uninfected children born to HIV-1-infected mothers (seroreverters [SR]) as controls. Plasma immunoglobulin G (IgG) Ab levels directed against HIV-1 envelope (gp160, gp41), gag (capsid, p24; matrix, p17), reverse transcriptase (p66/51), and integrase (p31) were serially measured using quantitative enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. HIV-1 Ab rates of decline were estimated over the first 15 months of the study.

Results: The HIV-1 Ab rates of decline in the ET-R group were similar to those in the SR group for all Ab specificities, except for p17 (P = .01). Ab decline rates in the LT-R group and the NR group were significantly slower than in the SR group for all tested Ab specificities. After 1 year of age, Ab levels to p31 and p17 were significantly associated with HIV-1 RNA levels (P < .001); Ab levels to gp160 (P < .001) and gp41 (P < .001) were significantly associated with cell-associated HIV-1 DNA levels.

Conclusions: Quantitative HIV-1-specific Ab levels may be useful for screening children on ART for viral suppression or for residual, cell-associated HIV-1 DNA levels.

Clinical trials registration: NCT00000872.

Keywords: HIV-1 persistence; HIV-1 quantitative antibodies; pediatric early antiretroviral therapy.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase I
  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-HIV Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antigens, Viral / immunology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • DNA, Viral / blood*
  • HIV Antibodies / blood*
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • HIV-1
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Puerto Rico
  • RNA, Viral / blood*
  • Sustained Virologic Response
  • United States


  • Anti-HIV Agents
  • Antigens, Viral
  • DNA, Viral
  • HIV Antibodies
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • RNA, Viral

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00000872